Efficient whole house heating on a budget. Electric baseboard


Here's the question, read below for the back story and details.

1100SF row home shell. LNG and 200A Electric service but at the moment leaning towards all electric. Considering upfront capital, long term efficiency and long term maintenance, I'm looking for the best heating solution and could use some insight.

A little back story here. I'm flipping a row home which will be primarily for student housing. While this is not my first flip. It is my first flip for student housing and also, my first flip where I am hiring a contractor. The goal here is a cost-effective flip given the intended tenants, not cheap. My budget is 80K for a 1100SF home.

Also, this home is in an old area of the city where natural gas headers are at best an unknown variable but in some cases filled with sediment and sometimes collapsed. The contractor proposed going all electric since we are redoing the electric anyway. I'm not married to this idea, but not opposed to it if it is necessary, or I can get incentives from the electrical company.

I'm concerned about heating. The home appears to have had forced air in some of the home at some point. However, it doesn't appear to be balanced and is in really bad shape. This is a clean slate, even some of the sub-floors are being replaced. The contractor seems to think that each students room should have its own heating control, and suggests electric baseboard heating. I do like the fact that there would be less maintenance involved but the independent controls seem a little superfluous, and I was under the impression that electric baseboard heat is horribly inefficient. Since there is not a fluid medium with any heat capacity to speak of, if it is not running, it is not heating. I'll be putting in new R13 and brand new windows which will help, but I'm still not sure. I'd like to know what my other options are. Most homes I've worked in had an existing Hydoionic system to work off of. So the decision of what type of heating to use for both long term efficiency and reasonable (not minimal) upfront capital expenses somewhat eludes me.

Best Answer

A mini split system would likely meet your needs best. While it's obviously a lot more expensive to install you might be able to recoup at least some of the cost with a higher selling price.

Not sure if A/C is needed in your area, but of course you also get A/C with a mini split system. I believe a mini split system can only do heating or cooling at one time, not both.

Each indoor unit will have it's own thermostat, so that meets your need for individualized controls.

Baseboard heat also typically have room thermostats and usually run at line voltage. Programmable line voltage Tstats are available, but not very common.

Like Ecnerwal said, baseboard is considered 100% efficient, but not cost effective. Unless you are in a rare part of the country where electricity is cheap, operating electric baseboard heat will be very expensive.

One more thought, will the individual rooms be metered separately? I would guess not, which could lead to arguments among your tenants regarding splitting up the electric bill. Because a mini-split system would be so much less expensive to operate, they might not argue over the electric bill if that were installed.